Jordan Schafer is on the roster and starting in left field tonight for his new team. He's a mystery, mostly, to his new manager, but he has some attributes that Ron Gardenhire likes a lot: He's got a reputation as a great defensive outfielder, he's one of the faster players in the league, and he's not afraid to steal a base.
That last one is an underrated skill. Remember all the times when Gardenhire has complained that he can't get his players to risk being thrown out when they get on base? Schafer, with 88 career stolen bases, doesn't have that problem. He's stolen 15 bases this season -- and has only 13 hits!
"Stealing bases, I've been extremely successful," said Schafer, who has been thrown out just twice this season, an 88 percent success rate. "But I think to this point in my career, I've underachieved at the plate."
That's probably true, considering he was once considered one of the Braves' top prospects. But given only sporadic playing time, Schafer's career has mostly fizzled. He was hitting well last year, but a broken ankle spoiled his season, and this year, he's been limited to pinch-hitting and defensive replacement duty for the Braves. "The at-bats weren't coming, so it's been hard," said Schafer, who hasn't had an RBI since May 18, or an extra-base hit since June 18, and hasn't homered since June 2013. "It's frustrating, but I'm happy for the change of scenery, and I'm happy to be here."
Gardenhire is, too, because Schafer's presence gives him a chance to give Danny Santana a few more starts at shortstop, the position the Twins project him to play eventually. Santana, coming off a five-hit game Sunday in Chicago, is in center tonight while Schafer gets accustomed to his new team, but he'll get some infield duty soon.
The outfield is in remarkably good shape today, considering there were 12,000 people and a 10-ton stage on it Saturday night.
Here are the lineups for the opener of a two-game series with the Padres: